Wisconsin and Michigan State played two tightly contested, spine-tingling games that spurred plenty of debate about which team is truly the Big Ten's best this season.
What about the league's biggest disappointment? Several teams could fit the description.
The question is relative to preseason expectations. While Indiana and Minnesota fans are disappointed in their teams' records, few expected much from the Hoosiers or Golden Gophers this season. Some Purdue fans aren't thrilled with the team's 6-6 ledger, but the Boilers had two more wins than they did in 2010. Hard to include Purdue in this group.
I look at four potential candidates for biggest disappointment: Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa and Northwestern. While all four are headed to bowl games, all four entered the season with higher expectations than 6-7 wins.
Ohio State endured historic transition, but still figured to contend for a Leaders division title. Not counting the vacated wins from 2010, the Buckeyes dropped as many Big Ten games this season (5) as they had in the previous six. Brian and I named Ohio State as the biggest disappointment in our Big Ten season review. Do Buckeyes fans agree?
Illinois finally had the schedule on its side this season with eight home games and no opener against Missouri. The Illini had talent on both sides of the ball. But after a 6-0 start, the team's best since 1951, Illinois dropped its final six games. It spelled the end for seventh-year coach Ron Zook.
Iowa also had a favorable schedule this season, and some Hawkeyes fans expected nine or more wins despite losing a lot of key players from the 2010 squad. While the Hawkeyes played well at home for the most part, they really struggled away from Kinnick Stadium and finished the regular season at 7-5 for the second consecutive year.
Northwestern returned a large senior class and set the bar high after reaching a team-record three consecutive bowl games. While the Dan Persa injury situation muddied the first chunk of the season, Persa eventually returned and played well. The bigger problem was a mistake-prone and unreliable defense that struggled in all but two Big Ten games.
It's your turn to weigh in. Which team is the Big Ten's biggest disappointment in 2011?